I have my Windows Automatic Updates set to "Notify me but don't automatically download or install them.".

However, if I install Microsoft Security Essentials, can I have the daily virus signatures downloaded and applied without being prompted each time by Windows Update?

I like to have control of installing other general Windows Updates, but would prefer not to have to be prompted for the signature definitions that I expect to have applied every day (would get a bit tedious) - these can just be installed without any prompt from Windows Update (if this is possible?).

Using XP Home SP 3. Just wanted to check this over before deciding whether or not to go for Microsoft Security Essentials.

  • MSE signature updates are not handled by Windows Update.
    – Ramhound
    Jun 26, 2012 at 15:13
  • 1
    @Ramhound Yes they are.
    – kinokijuf
    Jun 26, 2012 at 15:41
  • @kinokijuf - I have Security Essentials installed on my mother's computer. I assure you its not connected to the Windows Update setting because the only program that was updated when i looked at it yesterday was MSE. I think you are thinking of Windows Defender within Windows 7 and Vista.
    – Ramhound
    Jun 26, 2012 at 15:50
  • @Ramhound read the FAQ concern section and check out the 8 point.
    – avirk
    Jun 26, 2012 at 16:14
  • I seem to recall a similar question about Windows Defender, or is that in my head?
    – Iszi
    Jun 26, 2012 at 16:34

3 Answers 3


By default Security Essentials has "Run a scheduled scan on my PC" checked. Also "Check for the latest virus and spyware definitions before running a scheduled scan" is checked by default. If you run a scan on schedule (default) you will get updates automatically then also.


NO you can't stop MSE to downloading the latest virus definition. AFAIK it will update itself at least once in a day, if not then you can change the update time of it according to your choice for some long. I've used it once so now I've not any idea how to configure it manually.

For more information about MSE read Microsoft Security Essentials - Installation Checklist and Frequently Asked Questions.

  • Down voter please explain the reason of down vote?
    – avirk
    Jun 26, 2012 at 16:30
  • My guess is it's because you can set MSE to not auto-update. MSE itself doesn't auto-update (there isn't even an option for it), instead, it is Windows Update that applies MSE updates. If you set Windows Update to automatically find and apply updates, then MSE is "auto-updated"; if you set it to not do so, then MSE requires you to manually update.
    – Synetech
    Jun 28, 2012 at 16:40
  • @Synetech let me check it tomorrow on my cousin PC. Then I'll be sure about the auto update. I've a long time from when I didn't use MSE sometime it sucks.
    – avirk
    Jun 28, 2012 at 16:50

I recently installed Microsoft Security Essentials. I have Windows Automatic Updates set to "Notify me but don't automatically download or install them.", however, I can confirm that the virus/spyware definitions are still updated silently (i.e. without prompting), on a daily basis. Great - as this is the behaviour that I was hoping for.

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